2011 Subaru WRX and STi
Date Posted: September 8, 2010
By Zack Spencer
the WRX bulks up in size and adds some bad-boy looks. The STi is a refined track weapon
The WRX and WRX STi are the ''performance icon vehicles for the Subaru brand'' according to Ted Lalka from Subaru Canada. To put their money where their mouth is, Subaru introduced their new 2011 rally-inspired vehicles at Calabogie Motorsports Park, just outside of Ottawa. The undulating racetrack and equally interesting countryside proved a perfect spot for testing these two fast and capable vehicles. The 265 hp WRX sold as a 5-door hot-hatch or 4-door sedan starts at $32,495. The 305 hp WRX STi also comes in 4-door and 5-door trim and it will take $37,995 to get into the base model. The main competition for the WRX is the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart along with the VW Golf GTI and Mazdaspeed3. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution is the closest competitor for the STi.
The WRX now has the same wide-body fenders-flares and stance that was an STi exclusive until this year. Historically WRX owners have tended to be men but woman also purchased this capable cars. It will be interesting to see if women will still be attracted to the WRX, now that it has bulked up. Regardless, the added body panels and wider track do give an impression of stability. The STi version is now available as a 4-door sedan, for the first time, and it is very easy to spot thanks to a huge spoiler on the back for better high-speed stability. I prefer the more muted hatchback or the WRX without the wing; it's not my kind of thing. If I were 15 years younger I would probably love it. There is no question that either the WRX or more potent STi will get attention, they are that dramatic.
The WRX has a simple but functional interior with Anthracite cloth seats in black with red stitching. The highly bolstered seats were welcome as I tossed the WRX and STi around and the cloth seats provide an added level of grip--this is one of the major reasons to get cloth seats over leather. Improvements have been made to the media centre to include standard iPod or USB integration and Bluetooth music streaming or hands free calling. The STi also receives an optional navigation/audio system developed by Pioneer. The touch screen is rather small and the integration into the dash looks aftermarket but at least the option is available. Interior space is what one might expect from a compact car but the cargo area on both the hatch and sedan is good enough for two full-sized golf bags.
Driving the regular WRX on the country roads around Calabogie, Ontario reminded me of what a special car this is. Then steering is light and precise, the power delivery is smooth and ''just enough'' for some spirited fun. Compared to front wheel drive cars like the Mazdaspeed3 and Golf GTI, the AWD system in the WRX lets the driver deliver the power to all four wheels and experience the added level of grip that FWD cars cannot. Plus, the new wider wheel-track makes for a very balanced car. The STi on the other hand was kept exclusively for the track, where the newly stiffened springs, thicker stabilizer bars, new bushings and dramatically lighter wheels all come together to provide first rate fun, lap after lap. The STi isn't about flat out power but more about the driver's confidence in the cars cornering ability and stability at very high speeds. On these fronts, the STi often outperforms the driver's ability and not the other way around.
The WRX and WRX STi are similar in looks and both are based on the Subaru Impreza platform but in reality they are quite unique. If you are attracted to the added level of grip and performance that only an AWD car can deliver, then the regular WRX will more than fulfill your needs. The base price is very attractive and should be heavily considered compared to FWD cars like the Mazdaspeed3 and Golf GTI. The STi is targeted at a totally different crowd. The stiffer suspension, added horsepower, engine and differential adjustments plus performance tires don't make the STi as easy to live with day-to-day. The WRX is just about perfect for commuting, where the STi might feel like overkill. On the other hand, performance oriented drivers will automatically be drawn to the more capable STi and the improvements that have been made for 2011 will not leave them disappointed. WRX or WRX STi? Either way you decide, they now both look similar from ten paces away.
The Good, The Bad
The STi has the ability for the driver to dial in performance characteristics through the engines management system (SI-Drive), plus torque delivery through the centre differential (DCCD).
I'd love to have an STi without the rear ''shopping cart'' spoiler.
Power: 265hp or 305hp
Fill-up: 11.1L/8.0L/100km (city/highway WRX)
Sticker price: $32,495-$42,495